Wednesday, 20 March 2019 : 2nd Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scriptures speaking to us about the importance for us to look beyond our human aspirations, desires, pride, ego and ambition in life, so that we may be able to discover our true vocation in life, that is to do our best to serve the Lord and to love Him, by caring and loving one another in the best way we can.

In today’s first reading we heard from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah on how the prophet faced a lot of opposition and challenges from the many enemies that he had among the king’s court and followers. As the prophet Jeremiah spoke many of the prophecies of the upcoming doom and destruction of both Judah and Jerusalem, he was often resented and attacked for his works, and treated as a doomsayer and even traitor for his many ominous warnings to the king and people of Judah.

And then we heard about how Jeremiah pleaded the Lord to help him, after all the wicked things that those enemies and accusers had done towards him, all the sufferings that he had to endure all those while. He had to endure all those sufferings and pains patiently, often being humiliated and disgraced as he continued to carry out God’s mission among the people of Judah. In the end, all the pride and the wickedness of the enemies of Jeremiah were crushed, when what the Lord had revealed through His prophet was fulfilled. Jerusalem and Judah were destroyed, its king, nobles and people were sent into exile.

In another occasion, in the Gospel passage today, we heard how the disciples were bickering with each other because of their struggle for power, influence and glory, when two of them, St. James and St. John, the sons of Zebedee, came with their mother to ask a special favour from the Lord, asking for positions of importance and favour at the side the Lord. Naturally, the other disciples who witnessed and came to know all of these were not happy.

And the Lord rebuked all of them for that, as they have not truly understood what it meant for them to follow Him wholeheartedly. They did not realise that following the Lord did not mean that they would enjoy power, happiness and pleasure, as how it would have been for any other worldly leaders and kings. They thought that the Lord Jesus would be just like any other kings and rulers of the world, the One Who would reestablish the kingdom of Israel, and those who won favour with Him, would gain riches and glory.

This was the same issue that those who opposed the prophet Jeremiah had faced. They all were filled with worldly thoughts, desires, the greed for power and the lust for worldly pleasures. They only thought about their own wants and desires, hoping to gain for themselves as much benefits and advantages as possible, even at the disadvantage and suffering of others. That was why they persecuted the prophet Jeremiah, when the prophet spoke of the wickedness of their sins, and how all the glory and power those people wanted to amass, would be swept away and destroyed.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all these are reminders to all of us as Christians, that we must understand how we ought to live our lives as true Christians, as those who are truly committed and faithful in God. If we want to be true Christians, then we must ready to leave behind our ego and pride, our human desires and attachments to worldly concerns. Otherwise, all of these things will become serious obstacles for us, in our journey of faith.

Following the Lord means that we must model ourselves after the Lord Himself, Who humbled Himself so much that He had emptied Himself from all glory and honour, in serving even all of His disciples and taking up the work of a slave, to serve those who have been entrusted to Him. And He humbled Himself, even to take up the suffering and pain of the cross, because He revealed to us that all of worldly glory and fame are in truth meaningless and impermanent.

What did those nobles and all those false prophets gain from opposing the works of the prophet Jeremiah? Nothing! And what did the Pharisees and the chief priests gained by opposing the Lord Jesus and His followers? Nothing! What they gained were the destruction and ruination of their ambition when everything they valued were crushed by worldly forces, showing them the harsh reality of how meaningless their pursuit for power and stubbornness has been.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, during this time of Lent, let us all turn away from all these pride and wicked desires in our hearts and minds, and reorientate ourselves to live in accordance with God’s ways instead. Let us all change ourselves that while once we may have been disobedient and proud, now, we may grow in humility and obedience to the Lord. Let us all go through this season of Lent, being awakened and strengthened in faith, that we may grow ever closer to God and His love. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 20 : 17-28

At that time, when Jesus was going to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples and said to them, “See, we are going to Jerusalem. There the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law, who will condemn Him to death. They will hand Him over to the foreigners, who will mock Him, scourge Him and crucify Him. But He will be raised to life on the third day.”

Then the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down, to ask a favour. Jesus said to her, “What do you want?” And she answered, “Here You have my two sons. Grant that they may sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, when You are in Your kingdom.”

Jesus said to the brothers, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They answered, “We can.” Jesus replied, “You will indeed drink My cup, but to sit at My right or at My left is not for Me to grant. That will be for those, for whom My Father has prepared it.”

The other ten heard all this, and were angry with the two brothers. Then Jesus called them to Him and said, “You know that the rulers of the nations act as tyrants over them, and the powerful oppress them. It shall not be so among you : whoever wants to be more important in your community shall make himself your servant.”

“And if you want to be the first of all, make yourself the servant of all. Be like the Son of Man Who has come, not to be served but to serve, and to give His life to redeem many.”

Wednesday, 20 March 2019 : 2nd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 30 : 5-6, 14, 15-16

Free me from the snare that they have set for me. Indeed You are my Protector. Into Your hands I commend my spirit; You have redeemed Me, o Lord, faithful God.

I hear whispering among the crowd, rumours that frighten me from every side – their conspiracies, their schemes, their plot to take my life.

But I put my trust in You, o Lord, I said : “You are my God;” my days are in Your hand. Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, from those after my skin.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019 : 2nd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 18 : 18-20

Then, they said, “Come, let us plot against Jeremiah, for even without him, there will be priests to interpret the Teachings of the Law; there will always be wisemen to impart counsel and prophets to proclaim the word. Come, let us accuse him and strike him down instead of listening to what he says.”

Hear me, o YHVH! Listen to what my accusers say. Is evil the reward for good? Why do they dig a grave for me? Remember how I stood before You to speak well on their behalf so that Your anger might subside.